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Best Xbox One games for 2021

These are the best Xbox titles you can buy right now.

The Xbox One X is the most powerful game console on the market right now, and when it comes to multiplatform games, it's my favorite. Yes, the Xbox Series X arrived last year, but it's still hard to get your hands on and the existence of a new Xbox won't help you if you've been spending more time than usual at home and need to be entertained right now. But there's no real urgency for most gamers looking to grab a Series X, because if you invest in any of these games, they'll be backwards compatible with that video game console.

So, if you're an Xbox gamer looking to make the most of your Xbox One X, either by joining friends for a multiplayer battle royale, diving into a strategy or adventure game, or mowing down zombies, this list has got you covered. Read on for the best Xbox One games.

Before you buy, however, consider the following:

  • We've included links to the digital version of each game at the Xbox online store, if you don't want the disc version (sold at linked retailers via the red buttons).
  • Some titles, like Inside, Cuphead and The Witness, are digital-only titles. If you buy them at a retailer, you're just getting a download code.
  • Apex Legends and the baseline version of Destiny 2 are free to play (for Xbox Live subscribers), just use that digital link to download them.
  • In addition to those freebies, subscribers to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate can currently get Outer Worlds, Red Dead Redemption 2, Ori and the Blind Forest, Monster Hunter World, Gears 5, Halo 5, Metal Gear Solid V, The Witcher III, What Remains of Edith Finch and Rocket League at no extra charge. (Note that many of those titles will likely rotate out of the Game Pass system at some point in the future.)

With those caveats in place, let's move on to the best Xbox One games.

Read more: Best gaming router of 2021

id Software/Bethesda

See digital version at Microsoft

Doom Eternal rules. It's very much in the vein of the Doom reboot that launched in 2016, but that's a good thing. We say it's the most metal game ever made.

Cool additions include all-new methods of manoeuvring throughout the game's insanely violent universe. Very cool stuff. Probably the best Xbox One game of 2020 so far.

See GameSpot's Doom Eternal review.

 

Activision

See digital version at Microsoft

Endless online discourse about its difficulty aside, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is another masterpiece from Dark Souls creator From Software. 

Sekiro shares a little of the DNA that made Dark Souls so compelling, but it's absolutely a brand new beast, even more distinct from the Souls series than Bloodborne. It requires learning a whole new skillset (mainly parrying) but it's worth the initial pain. 

An early contender for game of the year.

See Gamespot's Sekiro review.

 

Rockstar Games

See digital version at Microsoft

I mean obviously. 

It took a while for Rockstar to release this one, but Red Dead Redemption 2 was worth the wait. This is a great game dripping in detail. Get through the slow start and engross yourself in one of the best video game worlds ever built.

See GameSpot's Red Dead Redemption 2 review.

 

Mobius Digital

See digital version at Microsoft

Outer Wilds is just... insane. A strange sci-fi mystery to be uncovered, Outer Wilds is set in a living breathing solar system that's simultaneously small, but also tremendous in its ambition and execution. 

It's a game packed with jaw-dropping moments that feel organic in a way few games can compete with. I cannot emphasize this enough: play this video game.

See GameSpot's Outer Wilds review.

 

Cuphead

See digital version at Microsoft

Cuphead is one of the most visually striking video games ever created. It's known for being extremely hard, but like most games known for being extremely hard, it's also extremely rewarding. Play it!

(If you have patience!)

See GameSpot's Cuphead review.

 

Activision

Destiny 2: Forsaken: See digital version at Microsoft
Destiny 2 standard: See digital version at Microsoft

Remember when no one was all that excited by Destiny 2? That's all changed with the Forsaken expansion, which has restored much of the excitement among hardcore and casual Destiny fans. Even if you abandoned Destiny 2 soon after its launch, there's enough fixed in Forsaken to justify diving back in.

See GameSpot's Destiny 2: Forsaken review.

 

Respawn Entertainment

See digital version at Microsoft

Apex Legends is the game no-one saw coming. In 2018 Fortnite literally ruled our cultural universe, but now its position atop the Battle Royale genre has been challenged by Apex Legends and with good reason. Designed by the core team responsible for Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and, more recently, the excellent Titanfall series, Apex Legends just feels so good minute to minute. Look for this game to stick around.

See GameSpot's Apex Legends review.

 

Screenshot by CNET

See digital version at Microsoft

Tremendous in scope, you're gonna want to give Assassin's Creed Odyssey a bit of breathing space. The opening credits roll after 5 hours for goodness sake! But once the game gets going, it really gets going. This is what a game made by hundreds of people looks like. Gorgeous, massive, polished. A supremely well made open world video game.

See GameSpot's Assassin's Creed Odyssey review.

 

See digital version at Microsoft

Ori and the Blind Forest is a glorious re-imagining of the "Metroidvania" video game, in which power ups allow access to new areas and new challenges.

It's beautiful, affecting and just feels good to control. It's a modern classic.

See GameSpot's Ori and the Blind Forest review.

 

See digital version at Microsoft

There's a Resident Evil cycle. It does something bold and innovative (see Resident Evil 1 or Resident Evil 4) and then it coasts on that achievement for a couple of sequels before getting its act together again.

Thankfully, Resident Evil 7 is what it looks like when the series gets its act together. It's the first relevant and essential Resident Evil game in over a decade. It's very good indeed.

See GameSpot's Resident Evil 7 review.

 

See digital version at Microsoft

Monster Hunter: World is the latest entry into the "big in Japan" Monster World series and it's a humdinger. Best of all, it's relatively accessible to new audiences.

It's a great starting point: previous games in the series have been on the Wii or on handheld consoles. This is the first time in a while Monster Hunter has appeared on a cutting-edge console and Monster Hunter: World takes full advantage of that computational grunt.

See GameSpot's Monster Hunter: World review.

 

Celeste

See digital version at Microsoft

Celeste is an early contender for game of 2018. It's a brutal platformer in the style of Super Meat Boy, but innovates in a number of interesting ways. It messes with your expectation of what jumping in a video game looks like.

It's also incredibly tight in terms of its design, and features one of the most delicately balanced learning curves. Extremely good stuff.

See GameSpot's Celeste review.

 

NetherRealm Studios

See digital version at Microsoft

Mortal Kombat is still kicking and, some might say, is better than ever. Ignore. Once upon a time Mortal Kombat was a gimmicky ultra-violent competitor to the sublime Street Fighter II. Now it's a spectacular fighting game in its own right, with its own set of strengths. This is the best Mortal Kombat game to date.

See GameSpot's Mortal Kombat 11 review.

 

See digital version at Microsoft

There's a lot less hype around the Gears of War series these days, which is a shame, because Gears 5 is a true return to form. One of the best big-budget AAA games of 2019.

See GameSpot's Gears 5 review.

 

See digital version at Microsoft

Inside is brutal, compelling and has an ending so bizarre I will literally never forget it as long as I live. 

Play this video game.

(Note that the retail version, linked below, comes packaged with Limbo, another excellent -- albeit short -- game.)

See GameSpot's Inside review.

 

343 Industries

See digital version at Microsoft

Halo might never regain the popularity and cultural relevance it had in the mid 2000s, but that doesn't mean Halo 5: Guardians is a bad game. It's not. It's a very good game. Particularly if you're in possession of a 4KTV and an Xbox One X.

The story has lost its way, but that core 30-second gameplay loop is as compelling as it ever was. Get stuck in.

See GameSpot's Halo 5: Guardians reviews.

 

2K Games

See digital version at Microsoft

It's probably the kind of game you'd rather play on PC, but if that's not an option might as well get stuck into this on your Xbox One. XCOM 2 is as good a turn-based tactics as you'll find.

See GameSpot's XCOM 2 review.

 

See digital version at Microsoft

Just when you thought you'd seen everything the first-person shooter has to offer, along comes Titanfall 2 to reinvent the genre. From the creators of Call of Duty comes a shooter that pushes the boundaries of what you thought was possible. Shooting stuff will never be the same again.

See GameSpot's Titanfall 2 review.

 

See digital version at Microsoft

You could make the argument that Metal Gear Solid V is one of the best open world games ever made. It's certainly one of the most malleable universes ever created, and one of the most responsive to player input. Marred by internal conflicts between Konami and the game's creator Hideo Kojima, the ending is extremely messy, but there's 40 hours of absolutely pitch perfect open world stealth goodness before you get there. 

Unmissable.

See GameSpot's Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain review.

 

Microsoft

See digital version at Microsoft

Forza grabbed the racing game crown from Gran Turismo years ago, and it's been squatting there ever since. Forza Horizon 3 is our favourite racing game -- it doesn't take itself too seriously, but is still enough of a simulation to satisfy rev heads. 

It also looks like a million bucks and then some.

See GameSpot's Forza Horizon 3 review.

 

CD Projekt Red

See digital version at Microsoft

Some people call The Witcher 3 the best game of this generation. I say how dare you besmirch the good name of Breath of the Wild and Bloodborne, but that doesn't mean The Witcher 3 isn't in the discussion.

It absolutely is. 

Also, it's a video game with good writing. That makes The Witcher 3 a bonafide unicorn.

See GameSpot's The Witcher 3 review.

 

See digital version at Microsoft

Rise of the Tomb Raider was a pretty sweet Xbox One exclusive back in the day. You can pick it up on PlayStation 4 now, but it still very much feels like an Xbox One video game. 

It's also extremely good, and the closest you're ever likely to get to an Uncharted-esque experience on the Xbox One.

See GameSpot's Rise of the Tomb Raider review.

 

505 Games

See digital version at Microsoft

A wild, spectacular (and completely bizarre) video game, Control is one of the most ambitious and interesting big budget games of the year. Fans of the X-Files (and maybe even Twin Peaks) will enjoy this.

See GameSpot's Control review.

 

id Software/Bethesda

See digital version at Microsoft

Doom is back. Sick of shooting bad guys from extremely far away? Very much over not being able to enjoy the visceral gore of demon internal organs spilling on nearby surfaces?

Doom is the video game for you.

See GameSpot's Doom review.

 

See digital version at Microsoft

You can't get Bloodborne on the Xbox One, but Dark Souls 3 is the next best thing.

From Software haven't made a bad game yet and in the pantheon of the "Souls" genre, Dark Souls 3 ranks pretty high. That means it's up there with the best of an already exceptional bunch. 

Souls games aren't for everyone, but you owe it to yourself to give Dark Souls 3 a try.

See GameSpot's Dark Souls 3 review.

 

The Witness

See digital version at Microsoft

From the creator of Braid comes a video game unlike anything you've ever played before.

The Witness is like a Super Metroid puzzle game. 

It's a universe waiting to be unlocked, only you don't require power-ups to proceed, you need to power-up your garbage brain. That sounds boring but it's really not. It's a fascinating design exercise and one of the most unique video games I've ever played.

See GameSpot's The Witness review.

 

Blizzard Entertainment

See digital version at Microsoft

Overwatch may be in the process of being bludgeoned to death by Fortnite and PUBG in terms of mainstream appeal, but it's still got a gargantuan audience returning night after night.

Mainly because Blizzard has literally no idea how to make a game that isn't compelling on every possible level.

If you were into Team Fortress back in the day, this is your new jam. If you like online shooters in any form, this is also your new jam.

Get on it.

See GameSpot's Overwatch review.

 

Bethesda

See digital version at Microsoft

Punching Nazis: The Video Game.

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is probably the most culturally relevant AAA video game of the last couple of years. It's well written, well sequenced and you should play the hell out of it.

See GameSpot's Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus review.

 

What Remains of Edith Finch

Gamespot

See digital version at Microsoft

A unique, story-focused game that'll pique the interest of folks that liked Gone Home or Dear Esther.

Like those games What Remains of Edith Finch is narratively driven, short but affecting. Best of all, you can play through the game in one sitting.

See GameSpot's What Remains of Edith Finch review.

 

Nintendo

See digital version at Microsoft

Playing soccer with cars is about as good as high concepts get. Hard to go wrong with that.

Rocket League is a great idea, perfectly executed.

See GameSpot's Rocket League review.

 

Capcom

See digital version at Microsoft

Probably the best video game remake ever. Evokes the spirit of the original Resident Evil 2 but doesn't feel creaky or dated. Works as a nostalgia piece but is also perfectly playable for newcomers. It feels like a brilliant reworking of a type of game no-one really makes any more.

See GameSpot's Resident Evil 2 review.

 

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Originally published earlier and updated periodically.